View Poll Results: Is the Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

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Thread: Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic?

  1. #61
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    Firstly, what is condone? It means finding something that is reprehensible good. Was anti-semitism in those days bad? No. It was normal.
    Yes, but you can't seem to decide whether the "normal" anti-Semitic views of Jews from the 16th century are better than our current morality or if Hitler was an evil man. Simply because something was normal for the time doesn't make it morally good. So it's kind of hard to take you seriously as an interlocutor.

    Anyone who has ever bothered to study the subject or even possesses a modicum of common sense understands anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, sexism extends far beyond causing mere physical injury and includes things like attitudes, verbal abuse, and non-physical components.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 04-15-2012 at 09:08 AM.
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  2. #62
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    If Shakespeare was Catholic and Catholics were being persecuted by the Protestants at the time could it be that Shakespeare was using this play to try to convince the Protestants to focus their anger on the Jews and leave the Catholics alone?

    I don't know much about the history of this time except what I've read in this thread so I might be completely missing the point here, but I'm now curious about this idea and wonder if someone can either knock it down or confirm it.
    Jews had been banned from England entirely since about 1290. They had been persecuted for a while before that.

    The Merchant of Venice was written between 1595 and 1598 and Jews were officially allowed to resettle (because money-lenders were needed again ) in 1655, although there had been a few Jewish merchants settling in London and forming a secret congregation before that. Still, not for hundreds of years anyway. It would still be some forty years after Shakespeare's own death before Jews could walk along the street, so to say.

    So no hate could be directed at any Jews, because there were none to his knowledge.

    Whether he was a Catholic or not, is a matter of conjecture, but seeing as there is as much argument to find fore and against, you could hardly pin an argument on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Yes, but you can't seem to decide whether the "normal" anti-Semitic views of Jews from the 16th century are better than our current morality or if Hitler was an evil man. So it's kind of hard to take you seriously as an interlocutor.

    Anyone who has ever bothered to study the subject or even possesses a modicum of common sense understands anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, sexism extends far beyond causing mere physical injury and includes things like attitudes, verbal abuse, and non-physical components.
    Do not start that again because anti-semitism in the 20ieth century is totally different from anti-semitism in the rest of history. The fact that I cannot call anyone evil has nothing to do with anti-semitism not being wrong (to us now).

    Of course it is about attitudes, but the attitude of a writer of a work of art is of little consequence to us now when it comes to the quality of the art. As Neely said, it is hardly the issue, even the subject of this play.

    If you make your current morality the basis of your judgement on a work of art, then you might as well stop reading altogether because most of it will disgust you, shock you or plainly repulse you. Austen is disgusting because women have no rights. We should condemn it as completely outdated and backward because of its class system. Indeed, it is anti-social mobility and it should not be read without warning on the front. Shakespeare is backward and outdated because his plays were anti-semitic, some of them anti-Catholic. Is that relevant at all?
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  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    No, but what is under dispute is whether the play and author does in fact condone those attitudes or whether it is critical of them. I think your idea about Catholics and religious intolerance is interesting, but it is highly speculative. Ultimately, I suspect there is no definitive or correct answer to those questions, hence why there is so much criticism written about the Shylock issue.
    Granted: it is the issue of whether the play condones or condemns prejudice which is under discussion.

    Contemporary 16th Century anti-Semitism is not disputed, nor that the play incorporates it into it's very fabric. Certainly Shakespeare's Shylock is ostensibly a pantomime villain whose fate panders to the preconceptions and expectations of his audience, but he is also so much more. Were Shylock a mere clown, or a device to give the audience someone to hiss at, there would be no necessity to humanise him and explain his motives as Shakespeare does. It is the Bard's skill, and lasting legacy, marking him out amongst his contemporaries, that he is able to project far beyond the surface of stock characters and make them so human.

    Yes, Shakespeare gives the audience what they want, but at the same time he questions their preconceptions. Unequivocally he shows Shylock the man and allows the audience a moment to consider: how whould I behave towards someone who spits on me, reviles me, treats me like a dog? Would their reaction be any different from Shylock's?

    "Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause: but since I am a dog, beware my fangs:"

    Would any man mildly accept such treatment and not seek redress if it were in his power to achieve it?

    Shylock does not seek to harm all Christians. He seeks revenge against Antonio for the way Antonio has treated him. This is personal emnity and Antonio has brought it down upon his own head because he hated Shylock for being a Jew.

    All this is clearly stated within the text. Is it not highlighting how foolish and dangerous prejudice is?

    As to your second point, at this far removed from the time it is inevitable that my suggestions regarding Shakespeare's religious allegance be deemed speculative. I don't deny it, but it is informed and plausible speculation, given such evidence as has survived.

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    Last edited by Hawkman; 04-15-2012 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Typos

  4. #64
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    As someone who seems to have no real moral standard, I was just explaining to you why it's hard to take any of your points seriously.

    The attitudes towards Shylock matter in the case of The Merchant of Venice because it plays a seminal role in some of the themes of the play. Hawkman already effectively challenged the idea of merely counting how often Shylock appears in scenes as a good indication in determining his importance to the play, so nothing more needs to be said on that point.

    I understand where Neely is coming from. Sometimes identifying "isms" when it is secondary to the work can be annoying and overboard. I'm not unsympathetic to the view. I felt the same way in Grad school that there is an over-obsession with identity politics at the expense of other aspects of the work or in missing what the work has to say entirely. Nevertheless, there are works where such discussions make a whole lot of sense (like this one, for example). The study of literature consists in more than just sitting in a class and saying, "Gee golly isn't this a beautiful and good play."
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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    Jews had been banned from England entirely since about 1290. They had been persecuted for a while before that.

    The Merchant of Venice was written between 1595 and 1598 and Jews were officially allowed to resettle (because money-lenders were needed again ) in 1655, although there had been a few Jewish merchants settling in London and forming a secret congregation before that. Still, not for hundreds of years anyway. It would still be some forty years after Shakespeare's own death before Jews could walk along the street, so to say.

    So no hate could be directed at any Jews, because there were none to his knowledge.

    Whether he was a Catholic or not, is a matter of conjecture, but seeing as there is as much argument to find fore and against, you could hardly pin an argument on it.
    I guess that knocks down the argument. If there weren't any Jews in England during Shakespeare's time to deflect the Protestant antagonism toward Catholicism onto, that couldn't be his motive.

  6. #66
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    As someone who seems to have no real moral standard, I was just explaining to you why it's hard to take any of your points seriously.

    The attitudes towards Shylock matter in the case of The Merchant of Venice because it plays a seminal role in some of the themes of the play. Hawkman already effectively challenged the idea of merely counting how often Shylock appears in scenes as a good indication in determining his importance to the play, so nothing more needs to be said on that point.

    I understand where Neely is coming from. Sometimes identifying "isms" when it is secondary to the work can be annoying and overboard. I'm not unsympathetic to the view. I felt the same way in Grad school that there is an over-obsession with identity politics at the expense of other aspects of the work or in missing what the work has to say entirely. Nevertheless, there are works where such discussions make a whole lot of sense (like this one, for example). The study of literature consists in more than just sitting in a class and saying, "Gee golly isn't this a beautiful and good play."
    Don't accuse me of that. I do have a moral standard, I am only not so foolish as to apply it to things in history.

    If you do accept Hawkman's arguments, then I will side with him, because I do believe that Shakespeare intentionally applied some humanity to Shylock which most of the audience would laugh at, but which could make the more discerning think. Also in a time where Catholics were persecuted, it could be asked what the purpose of that was. On the other side, he could be called a plot device to expose the other characters and the audience just like Mr Churchill in Emma could be considered as one. Being a plot device does not mean the character is underdeveloped.

    Of course the study of literature consists of more than 'wow, this is beautiful and good.' And it consists of more than 'gee, this writer was properly racist, wasn't he.' And that is what I, Neely and Hawkman are addressing here. I would contend it is hard to find a work which is not biased at all against a particular layer of people in society in literature as history has been like that and the world still is. Such research can serve an overall understanding of history and understanding of the writer to some extent (Oscar Wilde would not agree), but it should not rule literary criticism.

    As the class system and its limitations is a core element of Austen, we might as well abandone her as we do not approve of it. And so we might abandone The Merchant of Venice because it is anti-semitic. What if the anti-semitism in it is mythical (no-one in the audience would have seen a Jew at all in their lives) and could be read more as an allegory on evil and the speck of sawdust? Is it then still anti-semitic?

    The question in this case would be whether through being anti-semitic and reflecting contemporary bias towards Jews in the play, Shakespeare ahs the express aim to villainise Jews or rather the opposite. Do you know it? Do I know it? It ahs been discussed a lot. And what if you and I are both wrong? Would it be fair to stamp something anti-semitic based on conjecture?
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  7. #67
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    I don't think it would actually be better if it was mythologizing Jews as a villain figure, that can't exactly be separated from anti-semitism in general. When Loka mentioned the history of the play's performance in Asia I looked it up, and this play was the most popular Shakespeare performed in Japan from the 19th century to the 1970s, it was performed around 56 times, with multiple adaptations including Kabuki versions. The second place play was Hamlet with 6 performances. And I think it is telling that Shylock was apparently almost always played as the clownish villain, the authors I read said the Japanese playwrights immediately connected him with their version of the miser stock type. However, over time Shylock seems to have played a major part in imparting a mythologized view of Jews as miserly villains in Japanese society at large. In the 1960s a production in Tokyo attempted to emphasize the humanity of Shylock, but it was panned by critics and audiences, they couldn't even accept Shylock as anything other than the miserly stereotype.

    Anyway, this is the same argument that attempts to absolve Conrad of racism by saying he was talking about Europeans all along, so the African characters somehow don't reflect anything about perspectives of Africans at the time. This argument is silly, even if Shakespeare was using the comedy Jew as a stock figure to talk about the oppressions of Catholics (I think it unlikely, because this is not congruent with Catholic emancipation rhetoric and strikes me as anachronistic), you can't just ignore the question of Judaism in the text by trying to bypass it entirely.
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  8. #68
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    Don't accuse me of that. I do have a moral standard, I am only not so foolish as to apply it to things in history.
    Your own words and views did a pretty good job explaining why you have no real moral standards and why it's hard to take you seriously concerning this topic.

    If you do accept Hawkman's arguments, then I will side with him, because I do believe that Shakespeare intentionally applied some humanity to Shylock which most of the audience would laugh at, but which could make the more discerning think. Also in a time where Catholics were persecuted, it could be asked what the purpose of that was. On the other side, he could be called a plot device to expose the other characters and the audience just like Mr Churchill in Emma could be considered as one. Being a plot device does not mean the character is underdeveloped.
    Accepting some of Hawkman's arguments does not require me to accept all of them. I also perfectly accept there are ways one can read the play as supporting Shylock. An educated person is capable of holding multiple interpretations simultaneously. Like I said, I think a good case can be made for both sides of this argument. It's precisely why there is such strong debate around this issue in the first place.

    My personal position is that the play is anti-Semitic and the depiction of Shylock is anti-Semitic, but Shakespeare is so talented that he can't help but write a deep character that he manages to humanize in spite of the otherwise anti-Semitic depiction. Nevertheless, Shakespeare's talent with language and character creates an ambiguity in the language and depiction that allows for other later audiences with very different pre-conceptions to read Shylock's depiction very differently.

    Of course the study of literature consists of more than 'wow, this is beautiful and good.' And it consists of more than 'gee, this writer was properly racist, wasn't he.' And that is what I, Neely and Hawkman are addressing here.
    Actually this better characterizes what I said. Neely's and your position seems to be that it shouldn't really be included at all; my position is that it should be discussed, but it shouldn't be the entire conversation and the only thing talked about as there are many other important aspects of a literary work.

    As the class system and its limitations is a core element of Austen, we might as well abandone her as we do not approve of it. And so we might abandone The Merchant of Venice because it is anti-semitic.
    Ah, the slippery slope fallacy you and Neely seem so fond of. If someone points out problematic issues in a work, naturally what they really want is to ban the work altogether. Has anyone here demanded that others stop reading this work? Stop attacking a point that nobody here has actually made.

    The question in this case would be whether through being anti-semitic and reflecting contemporary bias towards Jews in the play, Shakespeare ahs the express aim to villainise Jews or rather the opposite. Do you know it? Do I know it? It ahs been discussed a lot. And what if you and I are both wrong? Would it be fair to stamp something anti-semitic based on conjecture?
    No, but we are stamping it based on actually reading the play and what it says, not on Shakespeare the person. The whole intentional fallacy thing, you might want to look it up.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 04-15-2012 at 11:31 AM.
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  9. #69
    I will not be drawn into the anti-Semitic debate, but I would like to once again say that my previous comment regarding Wilde and aesthetics has been misrepresented on more than one occasion which I find annoying.

    My original comment here:

    At the height of the brief fashion of aestheticism Wilde would argue aesthetics above intellectualism declaring that all pictures that make you say 'how interesting' as opposed to 'how beautiful' are bad pictures. We have gone beyond such narrow perspectives today of course, today art must make us think about who this 'offends', which minority figure is 'under-represented' and debate the whole (non) issue constantly. Such progress.

    Was not a signal that I think we should all return to the brief aesthetic fashion of the 1880s, but rather a comment upon the PC brigade school of criticism. I also make the point again here, found in the other thread in General Literature:

    I am not, for one second, suggesting that we return to the late Victorian aesthetic movement and I’m all for opening up a text and discussing all manner of things, it’s just that I think I have had just about enough of the ‘minority spotting school of criticism’ to last a lifetime, besides it has become such a distraction. To take a hobby horse of mine as an example, I can’t think of how much merit and wisdom has been missed in the works of Wilde to the endless pursuit and criticism of Victorian attitudes of sexuality – what a waste I think. This is the danger of leaving the text aside in pursuit of such side issues. http://www.online-literature.com/for...ad.php?t=68547
    I also say it again here:

    What I am aiming for is to question the point of the question, but if that's not relevant to this thread (?) then I'll start another one. I am also not saying that we should return to 1880s aesthetics at all. Instead, I am saying we should push aside all of this modern ethical baggage. Well really, I'm just saying I'm sick of all this modern ethical baggage, what other people think is up to them.
    So please stop misrepresenting what I am saying. I am wondering if people are more interested in ‘winning’ arguments by whatever means i.e. total misrepresentation, as opposed to discussing literature. We are not politicians.

    And actually Wilde’s flirtation with aestheticism is much more complicated and interesting than the fashion anyway. People would realise this if the minority spotting school would pay any attention to it at all. Maybe an exploration of Wilde’s aesthetic would be a valuable education? However there is little time for such fascinating material on university courses because we must focus upon bashing the Victorians and ‘correcting’ the past to make us feel morality superior and absolved of any wrong doing.

    Drkshadow Ah, the slippery slope fallacy you and Neely seem so fond of. If someone points out problematic issues in a work, naturally what they really want is to ban the work altogether. Has anyone here demanded that others stop reading this work? Stop attacking a point that nobody here has actually made.
    In terms of book banning, here is a recent thread upon the highly offensive works of Dante that you might be interested in reading:

    http://www.online-literature.com/for...hlight=banning

    This can be coupled with endless other threads or general articles which are seemingly on the increase regarding the banning of literature on politically correct grounds. Yes there is a sharp difference between this PC extremism and in generally discussing it thematically within a work, as maybe here, but it is nevertheless a little close for comfort. Again, there is a difference between this PC extremism and such discussions, as maybe found here, but it is a little close for comfort.

    The real joke is that often books thumbed for PC rejection could often be argued to be refuting whatever 'ism' is in question. However, the lowest rule of little Johny getting mixed up by the use of, say for example, the 'n word,' must of course take precedence over both common sense and literary merit.

    Drkshadow Actually this better characterizes what I said. Neely's and your position seems to be that it shouldn't really be included at all; my position is that it should be discussed, but it shouldn't be the entire conversation and the only thing talked about as there are many other important aspects of a literary work.
    Which is more or less what I am saying. The problem arises when it does become the central focus. When the only point in reading Conrad is to bring up racism, or in reading Austen to feel pity for women or in reading Wilde tut tut the late Victorians. The problem is it does get in the way. This is my point.

    I might find it interesting to look back over my past essays and to see just how much time was given over to such pursuits. Certainly it is important to spend some time on that, and I am glad that I did, but I am sure that far too much had been taken up with it. I know that for a personal angle I am interested in Wilde's aesthetic stance, which I did my dissertation on and I also think it centrally important in understanding Wilde, but I know that aside from that personal writing 0% was given to it in class. Why? I think it is central to reading Wilde and yet, no, no. This is the real tragedy.
    Last edited by LitNetIsGreat; 04-15-2012 at 01:15 PM.

  10. #70
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    they couldn't even accept Shylock as anything other than the miserly stereotype.

    Anyway, this is the same argument that attempts to absolve Conrad of racism by saying he was talking about Europeans all along, so the African characters somehow don't reflect anything about perspectives of Africans at the time. This argument is silly, even if Shakespeare was using the comedy Jew as a stock figure to talk about the oppressions of Catholics (I think it unlikely, because this is not congruent with Catholic emancipation rhetoric and strikes me as anachronistic), you can't just ignore the question of Judaism in the text by trying to bypass it entirely.
    It is not because a play is used for political purposes as it lends itself to it that it should forever be like that. Shakespeare's piece about King John was played in the 19th century with an added scene about the signing of the Magna Carta. This was not at all what Shakespeare wanted to depict, but it fitted in the Victorian agenda. King John became a hero.

    The Japanese could not accept Shylock as anything else and nor can we see him as anything else than a victim as it seems.

    I never said we had to bypass that issue, but it seems there is nothing else. It has been beaten to death that issue. That is the problem I have with that question. It is the same as the feminist idea in a certain stock of novels. It has been beaten to death.

    At any rate, everyone knows people were anti-semitic back then, do we really need to assess that once again? We could also declare it, hand some context and move on. The discussion will not become more interesting and nothing more will be learned from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Your own words and views did a pretty good job explaining why you have no real moral standards and why it's hard to take you seriously concerning this topic.
    Look, does this really need to end this way. I said it was anti-semitic, and I have said I also consider anti-semitism in my day and age wrong. Only I cannot and will not say that this particular author was wrong because it brings nothing new and it will not improve the work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Accepting some of Hawkman's arguments does not require me to accept all of them. I also perfectly accept there are ways one can read the play as supporting Shylock. An educated person is capable of holding multiple interpretations simultaneously. Like I said, I think a good case can be made for both sides of this argument. It's precisely why there is such strong debate around this issue in the first place.
    Well then, we agree on two levels:

    1 the play relfects anti-semitic views
    2 there are several ways in which to interpret Shylock

    Only as this thing is a comedy, I doubt whether Shylock was supposed to be victim at all.

    [QUOTE=Drkshadow03;1132525]My personal position is that the play is anti-Semitic and the depiction of Shylock is anti-Semitic, but Shakespeare is so talented that he can't help but write a deep character that he manages to humanize in spite of the otherwise anti-Semitic depiction. Nevertheless, Shakespeare's talent with language and character creates an ambiguity in the language and depiction that allows for other later audiences with very different pre-conceptions to read Shylock's depiction very differently.[/QUOTE

    Once again, we agree on the first point. I am not sure why the second point is so important. Granted it would be less PC and more uncomfortable to depict Shylock as he is supposed to be and it would probably induce more thinking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Actually this better characterizes what I said. Neely's and your position seems to be that it shouldn't really be included at all; my position is that it should be discussed, but it shouldn't be the entire conversation and the only thing talked about as there are many other important aspects of a literary work.
    Oh, it should be included. But as I said in response to Pip, it has been beaten to death. If this is the first a freshman or sophomore learns about this play, is that going to leave a favourable impression of Shakespeare? I doubt it. Then better do one with fewer issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Ah, the slippery slope fallacy you and Neely seem so fond of. If someone points out problematic issues in a work, naturally what they really want is to ban the work altogether. Has anyone here demanded that others stop reading this work? Stop attacking a point that nobody here has actually made.
    You find me one modern anti-semitic interpretation of Shylock in the west post-holocaust and I will believe you. Then I stand corrected. However, I am quite confident that there would be an outrage if you were to do one in the Globe in London and the sympathetic portrayal of Shylock goes back to 1814 no less.

    The only thing I was addressing, and Neely, is the fact that this play seems to have no other topic than anti-semitism. Shylock is only one quarter of the play. He drives the plot, maybe, but so does the greed of the rest. It is after all their greed that drives them to Shylock.
    Indeed, the Elizabethan anti-semitic reading (which is the most accurate one) could even be based on medieval plays of Shylock as the devil and Portia as the Virgin Mary and Shylock's conversion as his redemption.

    Indeed, no-one demanded that others stop reading the work, they only absolutely refute playing him as a stock villain with a hooked nose and a reed wig... As he was originally depicted, no doubt.

    Stating that this is anti-semitic is stating the obvious.
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  11. #71
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    I keep getting lost in what we are arguing about. Could someone set me straight?

    It seems that everyone agrees that the people living during Shakespeare's time were antisemitic, although they didn't have that word in their vocabulary. Also, I think everyone agrees that the Merchant of Venice encouraged that "normal" antisemitism whatever else it may do.

    No one is saying that the Merchant of Venice should be banned. No one is saying that the book should not be read as part of a school curricula.

    Is the real issue we are debating simply that some people are claiming that the play's portrayal of Shylock is antisemitic and others are saying that such claims should not be made?

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueCubed View Post
    We are doing a project for our Shakespeare lecture which basically asks, "Does Shakespeare's portrayal of Shylock constitute anti-Semitism? Can art transcend contemporary bigotry?"
    This is the OP's question, so might I suggest that questioning his right to ask it is not only deeply discourteous but self-aggrandising. It hijacks the thread and distracts from the discussion at hand. If you wish to discuss the validity of literary analysis then start your own thread.

    With regard to the OP's query, some of us believe the play to be anti-Semitc in bias and some of us don't, which basically means that we agree with the second premise that art transcends contemporary bigotry. So far the vote is 7 to 4 in favour of the latter position.

  13. #73
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    We are sorry.

    Neel expressed some frustration on the fact that there it that issue has cropped up again and someone decided to elaborate. That is all.

    We should indeed take it to another thread, then.

    Based on historic knowledge, the play is definitely anti-semitic. I think modern interpretation based on text alone can transcend historic bigotry, but I don't think that is right and proper. Circumstancial evidence suggests that Shylock should be protrayed in a villified manner, then let it be so.

    I know that is purist in a theatrical sense, but many plays have been used for purposes they were not made for. As we now have the benefit of being inquisitive, I think we should use that knowledge and not disregard it or bend it to our own purpose.

    I was one of the minority who votes 'yes' by the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I keep getting lost in what we are arguing about. Could someone set me straight?

    It seems that everyone agrees that the people living during Shakespeare's time were antisemitic, although they didn't have that word in their vocabulary. Also, I think everyone agrees that the Merchant of Venice encouraged that "normal" antisemitism whatever else it may do.

    No one is saying that the Merchant of Venice should be banned. No one is saying that the book should not be read as part of a school curricula.

    Is the real issue we are debating simply that some people are claiming that the play's portrayal of Shylock is antisemitic and others are saying that such claims should not be made?
    No, but we are brainwashing school kids into the fact that this play is racist. And only that. That was what Neely brought up, and that is what I think. Before you know it, the general concensus is that no-one should subject school children to this 'without context' (as Darkshadow expressed), and then where are you. The next step is that 'it is dangerous' and the next 'it should be banned'. All in moderation. Address the issue and that should be that. Don't have papers written by your pupils about it.

    And that's it. Discussion is closed. Zip.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

  14. #74
    This is the OP's question, so might I suggest that questioning his right to ask it is not only deeply discourteous but self-aggrandising. It hijacks the thread and distracts from the discussion at hand. If you wish to discuss the validity of literary analysis then start your own thread.
    I have; it's here:

    http://www.online-literature.com/for...58#post1132558

    Personally, I do have the bad habit of going 'off track' which can be seen to be discourteous or even rude. Not perhaps as rude as opening a homework help thread, indeed two threads, offering absolutely no opinion or counter responses to the responses and then possibly milking those responses, without even a thanks. (Or maybe the poster has just been away?)

    Though as to the OP, not much has been given to the second point:

    Originally Posted by QueCubed View Post
    We are doing a project for our Shakespeare lecture which basically asks, "Does Shakespeare's portrayal of Shylock constitute anti-Semitism? Can art transcend contemporary bigotry?"
    Which is, coincidentally maybe, absolutely covered by my own criticisms.

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    No, but we are brainwashing school kids into the fact that this play is racist. And only that. That was what Neely brought up, and that is what I think. Before you know it, the general concensus is that no-one should subject school children to this 'without context' (as Darkshadow expressed), and then where are you. The next step is that 'it is dangerous' and the next 'it should be banned'. All in moderation. Address the issue and that should be that. Don't have papers written by your pupils about it.

    And that's it. Discussion is closed. Zip.
    I guess you have a point. If the play is labeled antisemitic, which I think it is, some people may feel obligated to remove it from the public school curricula. However, it would be better if it stayed there so students could learn about antisemitism and perhaps deal with it.

    If it were removed, perhaps a teenager would much prefer to read Titus Andronicus.

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